After Two Detainee Deaths, CoreCivic Hit With $2,500 Daily Fine for Chronically Short-Staffed Florida Jail
On February 15, 2022, an on-going staffing crisis at Florida’s Citrus County Detention Facility (CCDF) prompted county officials to start fining its privately contracted operator, Tennessee-based CoreCivic, $2,500 a day for running the prison short-staffed. Three days later, on February 18, 2022, County Administrator Randy Oliver informed county commissioners that CoreCivic would have $77,500 deducted from its current invoice.
The fine is a wrist-slap for CoreCivic, which reported 2021 revenues of $1.86 billion. But it was sufficient to get company executives on their jet to the Florida jail, bringing along several temporary guards. The firm announced on February 10, 2022, that former CCDF Warden Mike Quinn and three other staffers were “no longer employed.”
That news followed the deaths of two female CCDF detainees. Lisa Ann Trombley, 48, jumped to her death from the second floor on October 17, 2021, three weeks after she was jailed for failure to appear on a charge alleging she violated her ex-husband’s restraining order with a text message to him. Valerie Susan Bogle, 63, was found dead of dehydration on November 2, 2021, in the isolation cell where she had been held since her arrest for battery four days earlier.
In his letter announcing the financial sanctions to acting CCDF Warden Jerry Wardlow, Oliver recognized the challenge of staffing in the pandemic economy, but he cited the need to see progress, noting that CoreCivic’s latest staffing report in January 2022 showed a “continuous decline in staffing levels compared to prior months.”
He said the county notified Quinn of its concerns over staffing at the lockup in May 2021 and August 2021 before issuing a third warning in November 2021, demanding that the required posts be filled by January 1, 2022, or the county would begin to enforce contractual obligations by assessing fines. Quinn then departed, leaving Wardlow in charge when the bill came due.
CoreCivic has managed CCDF since 1995. Its most recent contract was approved by the county in July 2020 and is not set to expire until September 2030. With it, the private prison contractor agreed to fill at least twelve day posts, eight night posts and thirteen 40-hour-a-week posts. After the firm flew in reinforcements, it said that CCDF was staffed at 94 percent compliance. But verifiable reports were not available for the county commissioners meeting on February 22, 2022.
Source: Citrus County Chronicle
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